Two-way trade between Australia and the UAE grew 36 per cent last year
On 8 February, more than 130 delegates representing 80 Australian companies from the State of Victoria arrived in the UAE as part of the state government’s fourth annual trade mission to the UAE.
The companies represented a number of industry sectors including agribusiness, education, equine, fashion and sustainable urban development. It was, however, the 45 food and beverage companies—poised to participate in Gulfood in Dubai, the world’s biggest food and hospitality trade show—that made up the largest part of the group.
These missions were started under the leadership of Louise Asher, State Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade from 2010 to 2014, and are being continued by her successor Adem Somyurek. Both leaders understand the importance of face-to-face meetings in building relationships in this part of the world.
“The Victorian Government has a long history of trade missions to the Middle East, and has introduced hundreds of Victorian companies to the market and driven billions of dollars in additional exports,” Somyurek said ahead of the trip.
“This mission will give participating companies an invaluable first-hand understanding of local market dynamics and the opportunity to create and strengthen trade and investment connections and partnerships.
The State of Victoria has been very active in seeking opportunities in the Middle East, since establishing the Victorian Government Business Office for the Middle East and North Africa in Dubai in 1997 and has contributed to the overall growth of Australian and UAE trade links.
Two-way trade between Australia and the UAE grew 36 per cent to A$5.9 billion in 2013/2014, up from A$ 4.2 billion in 2010. This makes the UAE Australia’s 17th most important bilataral trading partner. Exports grew 38 per cent in the same period, to A$2.7 billion from A$1.9 billion, making the UAE the 15th most important country for Australia’s exports.
“It’s a nice steady growth,” says Gerard Seeber, Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Australian Consulate General in Dubai. “Our exports last year grew 18 per cent; it’s been a steady tracking upwards. And being 15th [for exports] given the size of the country that’s a major achievement.
As reflected in the Victorian State delegation, the UAE—and the wider Middle East— is an important market for food. Australia’s food and agriculture exports to the region are worth A$4.1 billion; exports to China are worth A$3.9 billion, according to Seeber. “Agricultural exports are important for us,” he says. “Food imports are also key for this part of the world. There’s a very strong link there just in that alone.”
There are now 360 Australian food companies of all sizes based in the UAE. A total of 16,501 tonnes of lamb and 8,276 tonnes (shipped weight) of beef were shipped or flown to the UAE in 2013-14, according to David Beatty, international business manager for MENA at Meat and Livestock Australia, which provides marketing and research to Australia’s cattle, sheep and goat producers. He predicts the market will continue to grow in 2015 and beyond.
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